By David Onmeje
Africa by conception is designed by God Himself to be a great continent. But very often, Africans privileged to mount leadership positions on the continent are devoid of the essential ingredients which empowers a leader towards success in the nations they rule.
The phenomenon became widespread after most African states kissed the romance of independence from colonial masters. The aspiration to leadership and the zeal to succeed while on the leadership podium requires courage. A leader in the truest sense is a carrier of the destiny or fate of millions of people. So, to succeed itself demands a consistent dosage of courage or else, frustrations easily beckons a leader to the path of failures.
Unfortunately, Today, purveyors of leadership history only mention a few African leaders (past and present) who have conquered this standards of leadership. There are really very few African leaders qualified for citation in exemplary leadership courage that should lead to success.
Great African leaders whose names often pops up under such leadership interrogations include Ghana’s Kweme Nkurmah; Burkina Faso’s Captain Thomas Sankara; South Africa’s Nelson Mandela; Ethiopia’s Halie Selassie, Rwanda’s Paul Kagame and of course, President Muhammadu Buhari of Nigeria among a few others.
But there is an indubitable sense in arguments by those who think what is Africa’s heaviest burden is lack of leadership courage. Most African leaders know the right thing to do, but are barren of the courage to dare it or what is commonly referred to as the “political will,” because of the ungodly allures and fascinations of leadership. It explains why there are few of such individuals and personalities across Africa.
Nonetheless, the incumbent President of Nigeria, a reputable retired Army officer, Gen. Muhammadu Buhari stands out tall in leadership courage. President Buhari has twice been on Nigeria’s leadership saddle. He first came as a military Head of State in 1984 and in 2015, he returned as a democratic President. To say, he is one of Nigeria’s finest leaders of all times, for all the times he has mounted the leadership mantle is to emphasize the obvious.
What is inseparable with his persona is that in all instances, President Buhari has demonstrated leadership courage to succeed and leave landmark legacies for his country. Nigeria is a very difficult country to govern; but President Buhari has persistently manifested the courage to wither the storm to success by confronting the nation’s teething problems unflinchingly and boldly.
John Maxwell once said; “ A great leader’s courage to fulfill his vision comes from passion, not position.” President Buhari is a replica of this reconstruction of the thoughts of a leader. Therefore, Buhari does not flinch in taking the right leadership decisions insofar as it leads to light at the end of the tunnel. He steps on toes and wade off the lobbying shadows of even close political associates once he is bent on doing the right thing.
Every Nigerian is aware of the severity and toughness of the problems which engulfed Nigeria when the Buhari Presidency was inaugurated. It was more intensified on insecurity as signposted by Boko Haram insurgency and other crumbling insurrections around the country.
President Buhari knew he had to urgently tackle the Boko Haram menace. And it required courage to make the right decisions on the rightful, competent and trusted military officers to lead the battle against insurgency. And President Buhari has not left anyone disillusioned in the manner he has handled insurgencies and insurrections. He has demonstrated rare courage; unbelievable courage and uncommon courage to explore the fields in anti-terrorism combats where his predecessors dreaded.
Mr. President astounded Nigerians when he assembled his team of Security Chiefs. He opted to appoint serving military officers whom he has never met before. But he had reason to trust their capacity and competence to perform the task as certified by their worthy profiles.
In the Nigerian Army, President Buhari spotted Lt. Gen. TY Buratai and anointed him the Chief of Army Staff (COAS). Further justifying his explicit confidence in Gen. Buratai, he crowned him leader of the counter-insurgency operations.
What many Nigerians failed to decode in Mr. President’s choice of Gen. Buratai was the desire to have a COAS and helmsman of counter-terrorism in Nigeria in the personality of an officer who could personally go to the trenches, comb the caves, forests and mountains of the Northeast in search of insurgents hideous camps. He wanted a leader of counter-insurgency who will take the war to insurgents’ doorsteps.
And Gen. Buratai’s antecedents fitted into President Buhari’s ideal leader of the war. And the Army Chief has neither failed the President nor Nigerians, as he is doing it without fear or favour. The Army Chief is also delivering on this mandate and meeting his targets in the frontlines’ rewardingly.
Thus, in Gen. Buratai presence on the turf in combating Boko Haram terrorism, one is assailed with the courage of Mr. President’s decision to anoint him leader of this battle, which Nigeria is poised to win at all cost. It is President Buhari’s courage in the appointment of Gen. Buratai that has ensured the reclamation of all the 18 local governments in the Northeast under the captivity of insurgents.
The courage of the President’s decision is mirrored in Gen. Buratai’s leading of troops to halt the spread of Boko Haram terrorism to all parts of Northern Nigeria and its aggressive attempts to extend tentacles to Southern Nigeria.
Nigerians can see and feel the courage of the Presidential decision in the freedom of about 20, 000 Nigerians held hostage in Boko Haram gulags in the Northeast. And the same courage has emboldened Gen. Buratai to demystify the dreaded Sambisa forest, Boko Haram’s formerly untouchable haven.
The same Presidential courage in leadership decision has propelled Gen. Buratai to confine Boko Haram operations in a few far-flung areas in the Northeast and the Lake Chad Basin. The resultant effect has been the desertion of IDPs camps and the corresponding return of internally displaced persons to abandoned villages and communities in the region. The development is made possible because there is palpable peace and security in a sizable proportion of the devastated Northeast.
Gen. Buratai is again ennobled by the presidential courage in appointing him leader of counter-insurgency operations by ensuring the rehabilitation and rebuilding process of communities ruined by insurgency in the Northeast are progressing seamlessly to resettle a once pauperized and distressed villagers’.
So, whatever positive changes or bliss Nigerians have experienced in the country’s Boko Haram combats are plausible testimonies of the outcomes of that rare leadership courage. It is the incredible and uncommon courage exhibited by President Buhari by appointing a trusted and competent Army General like Buratai to lead the battle against insurgency.
This presidential courage has harvested for Nigerians unbeatable gains in the combat of Boko Haram terrorism. It is a remarkable departure from the tradition of the past, when excuses reigned and insurgency expanded unimaginably in helpless indignation of the nation’s military.
President Buhari’s courageous actions has aligned with the preachments of Alan Cohen, who said; “It takes a lot of courage to release the familiar and seemingly secure, to embrace the new. But there is no real security in what is no longer meaningful. There is more security in the adventurous and exciting, for in movement there is life, and in change there is power.”
Onmeje wrote this piece from the United Kingdom.